WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THERE’S NO “MED” IN “MED SPA”?
By Sydney Loney
(Excerpt) In a survey of American Society of Dermatologic Surgery members, published in 2020, researchers discovered 70 per cent of 306 dermatologists reported seeing at least one patient – and as many as 20 – with botched cosmetic treatments in the past two years, the majority of which were attributed to medical spas. There is no recent data from Canada, although a survey of Canadian dermatologists in 2012 raised concerns about burns caused by laser hair removal. The most common issues U.S. dermatologist reported included discolouration and burns from intense pulsed light treatments and laser hair removal, as well as reactions and infections arising from misplace fillers.
Ten years ago, Toronto dermatologist Dr. Lisa Kellett might have encountered post-esthetic spa complications every few months – now she sees them every week. “Don’t get me started,” Kellett says. “These places are the bane of my existence.” The worst cases she’s seen have been vascular occlusions, where filler was injected into, or too close to, an artery, blocking blood flow and causing the surrounding skin to die. In rare cases it can lead to blindness. “If you can diagnose it, you can treat it,” Kellett says. “But in these situations, even if the injector had diagnosed it correctly, they didn’t know what the treatment was.”
The problem, Kellett says, is that pretty much anyone can open a clinic that offers esthetic medicine and call it a med spa. “It’s difficult to have someone go in and regulate med spas, because they’re popping up on every corner,” she says. Esthetic medicine was an already lucrative industry that flourished during the pandemic, thanks to all the hours people spent contemplating their fine lines and tired eyes on Zoom calls. In 2020, the global med spa industry was valued at more than US$12 billion (the equivalent of almost C$16 billion) – a figure that’s expected to reach nearly US$26 billion (C$34 billion) by 2026, according to the Dublin-based data firm Research and Markets.
From Zoomer Magazine